View Full Version : Throw a flag on these Super Bowl referees

02-06-06, 08:49 AM
Posted on Mon, Feb. 06, 2006
Throw a flag on these Super Bowl referees
Kansas City Star

DETROIT - What crime-ridden, boarded-building, automotive-industry-ravaged, snowy Detroit couldn't do, an NFL officiating crew pulled off with relative ease in front of plenty of bored-silly football fans inside beautiful Ford Field.

Sports' and television's most indestructible beast - the Super Bowl - met its match in the 40th playing of the game the world stops to watch.

The inevitable finally happened. A group of middle-aged executives trying to keep pace with a group of highly trained 20-something athletes destroyed America's sports holiday.

Pittsburgh's one-for-the-thumb Super Bowl will be remembered as the game when physically overmatched referees and heads-buried NFL executives flipped non-Steelers fans an XL middle finger.

The Steelers shook off a terrible first quarter and whipped the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL.

Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher, after a 14-year pursuit, secured his long-overdue first title. Receiver Hines Ward won the MVP award with a five-catch, 123-yard, one-TD performance. The Bus, Jerome Bettis, contributed a couple of big plays in his Super Bowl homecoming. And Ben Roethlisberger, the boy-wonder QB, overcame a couple of critical mistakes with a few all-heart runs and throws.

The Seahawks did what they could to help the Steelers, too. Jerramy Stevens, called out by Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter during pregame hype, dropped enough Matt Hasselbeck passes that FBI investigators would be negligent for failing to interrogate Stevens today. His third-quarter TD catch has to be considered a smokescreen, clutched with two hands to fool people suspicious of a point-shaving scandal.

Seattle coach Mike Holmgren's end-of-the-first-half play-calling and clock management also contributed to Pittsburgh's victory. Trailing 7-3 and having moved the ball to the Pittsburgh 40 with 48 seconds on the clock, the Seahawks wasted a good 30 seconds as Hasselbeck flapped his arms, shouted directions and impersonated Peyton Manning at the line of scrimmage. If not for a Pittsburgh timeout, it appeared the Seahawks were going to take a delay-of-game penalty or try to run out the entire clock.

Eventually, Holmgren sent Josh Brown out to attempt a 54-yard field goal - which Brown missed - and walked into the Seattle locker room with one timeout in his pocket.

But make no mistake about Super Bowl XL, the performance of referee Bill Leavy and his crew overshadowed Pittsburgh's heroics and Seattle's blunders.

Paul Tagliabue's league has an officiating crisis. Bogus, inconsistent flag-throwing and rule-interpreting is making the national pastime difficult to take seriously. So far, only Joey Porter has demonstrated the necessary courage to address what we all see.

Many of these part-time, 50-year-old referees don't know what they're doing and can't keep up with the action.

Porter fumed when the refs nearly stole Pittsburgh's playoff victory over Indianapolis by overturning a Troy Polamalu interception.

Porter probably won't address the first-quarter touchdown that Sunday's referees stole from the Seahawks. Hasselbeck avoided pressure and hit Darrell Jackson in the back of the end zone with a beautiful strike. The Pittsburgh cornerback immediately turned to back judge Bob Waggoner and begged for an offensive pass-interference call. After a couple of seconds of thought, Waggoner granted the Pittsburgh request and erased Seattle's hard-earned touchdown.

The Seahawks settled for a field goal. Had they not been robbed of the four points, they would have ended the game with the ball and the opportunity to drive for a game-tying touchdown.

Seattle was victimized by two other questionable first-half calls_including the 1-yard TD run the refs awarded Roethlisberger when he seemed a few inches short of the goal line_but the final backbreaking call helped set up Pittsburgh's game-icing, reverse, wide-receiver-pass-to-Ward touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Ike Taylor intercepted Hasselbeck deep in Pittsburgh territory. Hasselbeck stopped Taylor at the Pittsburgh 29 with a perfectly executed form tackle across Taylor's knees. The refs flagged Hasselbeck for illegally "blocking" Taylor across his knees and gave the Steelers 15 additional yards.

The Seahawks justifiably can complain that Sunday's one-sided officiating disrupted their offensive rhythm and undermined their focus. The officiating had to creep inside their head.

And NFL fans need to acknowledge that there's something terribly wrong with professional football. This year's playoffs were horrible. Sunday's Super Bowl stands as an appropriate symbol of the 2006 playoffs_boring and poorly officiated.

We are too technologically advanced, and the NFL is overrun with too much money to put up with the kind of officiating errors that are ruining the pro game. The league needs younger, full-time referees on the field and a three-man officiating team sitting in the press box supervising what is called on the field. All calls - including ones like the offensive pass-interference call that killed Seattle - should be subject to quick review and overturning.

You don't need an official on the field to stick his head underneath a blanket draped over a camera to review calls. Those decisions can be made in a press-box suite. Instead of stopping the game for commercial timeouts on nearly every change of possession or when a coach just wants to stop the clock, the game should go to a commercial timeout whenever a critical penalty needs to be reviewed in the booth.

Also, the officiating crew should be forced to address the media and defend their decisions. It's ridiculous that the media are allowed to confront players, coaches, executives and owners, but the guys who can easily change the course of a game with one questionable decision are pretty much off limits.

Bill Leavy and his crew ruined Super Bowl XL. Am I the only one who would like to hear them defend their incompetence?

02-06-06, 12:42 PM
Touchdowns by just "breaking the plane" of the goal line is a farce. I think that runners or receivers should have both knees down on the ground, within the boundaries of the touchdown perimeters, while in control of the football, for their catch or run to be recognized as a touchdown. I think that field goal from 55 yards or more, when successfully attempted, should be counted as 4 points instead of 3. I think that there should be an additional referee added, one that can run a 10.0 second 100 yard dash and whos eyesight is better than 20/20 and who is not from Pittsburg. LOL

02-06-06, 01:22 PM
I have to agree with the "breaking the plane" TD. That was stretch.
Did anyone else see one of the Seahawks "spear" one of the Steelers? It was in the first half.
I know it wasn't my imagination, it was replayed 5 times. I want to know
where the flag was on that play.

02-06-06, 01:31 PM
I feel all refs need to go to school and learn how to play fair;)

"A rinky-dink offensive pass interference flag wiped out an early touchdown pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Darrell Jackson, forcing Seattle to settle for three instead of seven. When Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger lunged for the goal line near the end of the first half, replays indicated a close play but a clear stop by the Seahawks. Nope—touchdown, Steelers..."

02-06-06, 01:37 PM
Spear? He almost had his head taken off! Ouch~but its still all in a days $50k in wages. Gary, you had me at the No Doubt TD proposal, but four points?

02-06-06, 01:41 PM
Ouch is right...I though he broke his back, but like you said All in a days work
at $50K.

02-06-06, 02:02 PM
There were calls made that could have determined the game early on. No Official called the Seattle center on roughing when he suddenly appeared after the play was called "dead" and blind sided the...

02-06-06, 02:55 PM
4 points would be for successful field goals over 55 yards. It would entice some interesting stategy and gambling considerations (gambling as in taking a football chance) don't you think?